On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.
How many paintings have I seen of that partridge, a plump little bird on a branch, perhaps in a nest, surrounded by golden pears? Christmas cards, songbooks, museums are full of them. This is lovely but odd, because partridges nest on the ground, and they eat insects, not pears. So what is a partridge doing in a tree?
A little research digs up a language theory: the carol is French, partridge in French is perdrix, pronounced “pair-dree” which was corrupted in the transition to English. This is extremely plausible.
But I’d rather imagine that the bird was choosing a life other than the expected one. Supposed to be on the ground, it’s up in a tree. I like that. I have certainly made some contrary decisions over the years and found myself in unexpected places.
This is the altar of my little church this morning, decorated for Christmas. We sang songs, heard scripture, shared bread and wine, and then, in the spirit of the film A Christmas Story, feasted after the service on takeout Chinese food. Welcome to my pear tree.